ESSCA-USA Statement on situation in western Equatoria
YPSILANTI, MI AUGUST 10, 2015 – Since July 27, 2015 there has been a string of violence in Yambio, Western Equatoria State where at least 9 people have been killed and many more injured. It is not yet clear what provoked this unrest, however several reports indicate that migrant pastoralist supported by elements within the SPLA were the primary culprits.
This wave of unrest in Yambio has forced thousands of residences to flee their homes and take refuge in the bush, UNMISS, churches and other humanitarian organizations. The clash has disrupted schools, businesses, and daily life in Yambio. Our thoughts and pray are with families of those who have lost loved ones because of this tragic unrest.
This wave of violence follows similar episodes in Maridi and Mundri West counties over the past few months where clashes between civilians and SPLA soldiers led to civilian deaths, looting and destruction of property. It is consistent with other attacks and civilian killings perpetrated by SPLA soldiers in Eastern and Central Equatoria States and around the country at large over the last few years. Regrettably, the central government has failed to contain the situation and quell the tension. It is deplorable that the SPLA General Chief of Staff, Paul Malong Awan, has given “shoot to kill” directives as reported on Sudan Tribune, rather than tame the situation through dialogue. Such directives are further evidence that South Sudan is now a full-fledged authoritarian police state. We reject and denounce this form of governance in the strongest term possible. This is not the form of government thousands of South Sudanese died for during the Sudan civil wars.
ESSCA-USA strongly condemns the criminal and senseless acts SPLA soldiers exact on South Sudanese citizens. We call on the Government of South Sudan to control and ensure that SPLA soldiers show restraint while interacting with civilians. These rogue soldiers must be held accountable and clashes between the SPLA and civilians must end to ensure the peace and security of citizens.
The Army’s primary role is to protect the country and its citizens, so it’s untenable that SPLA soldiers regularly terrorizes and kills innocent civilians. For peace and security to prevail we call on the Government of South Sudan to reform the SPLA and transform it into a professional National Army mandated to safeguard the national security of the country.